The code, from the Office of the E-envoy, places greater emphasis on government workers' privacy than past guidelines and represents a significant shift in thinking on workplace monitoring.
But its publication months ahead of separate guidelines on workplace monitoring from the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC), will put IT directors in a quandary, the local government IT directors' association Socitm said.
"Human resources staff and IT managers are faced with a dilemma over the e-envoy guidance or waiting for the OIC guidance," said Terry Street, data protection adviser to Socitm.
The guidelines warn against wholesale monitoring of employees' e-mails and are more restrictive than guidelines under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
The e-envoy's office said the code was drawn up after discussions with the OIC.